We’re kind of strange. It seems to me we’re naturally inclined to exclude others until we’re told otherwise. That’s so backwards. In the 4 years I’ve been in youth ministry, one of the biggest frustrations I’ve encountered is building connections with other youth ministries in my area. I strategically try to establish relationships with other social organizations, youth ministries, schools, and non-profits. In the past, I’ve had great success in meeting these goals in every realm, except with youth ministries. This has only recently changed. Yet, I often wonder why has it taken 4 years to unify with other youth ministries, youth pastors, and the like when it only took a couple weeks to do the same with other causes? I mean, aren’t we on the same team? Don’t we desire to see students grow closer to God, together with no regard for denomination? Shouldn’t unity be a desire?
When we talk about unity, we have to focus in. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen unity been a goal, only for theological differences and denominational differences become an obstacle. In the Church universal, we are very skilled in making mountains out of molehills. So, how does unity happen? How do we navigate denominational differences to see mass amounts of students come together and seek after God? How do we reach out and build tremendous, blossoming relationships with other youth youth leaders? In my experience, here are the three things that will help you establish unity, build relationships, and ultimately see God’s purpose illuminated where you are.
Unity is a two-way street. Developing lasting unity between two people, or two entities requires that both feel and show the love. Establishing lasting unity also requires pursuit. After all, how is another youth leader going to know you want to unify with them if you don’t attempt to let them know that’s what you want? If you want unity, stop waiting for it, pursue it. Put yourself out there. Message, call, stop by announced, do something!
Allow me to clarify, by persist I don’t mean bother. Youth leaders are often busy, and sometimes rightly so. With the crazy schedules that come along with this calling, also comes the reality that we let things fall through the cracks. Unfortunately, one of the items that we forget are new connections. But, don’t let that be an excuse for not trying, or trying again. Don’t give up unless it’s blatantly clear the other party has no interest.
It took me one year to become a confident speaker. It’s taken four years to learn how to unite. Be patient with others and be patient with yourselves. You have no idea what that other youth leader or entity you’re trying to unite with is going through. Give them time, and give yourself peace, by being patient.
This isn’t all there is to building unity in ministry where you are. A lot of this is contextual. However, I believe these three concepts are pertinent to establishing and maintaining unity. In a world that divides itself, we can be the catalysts that bring unity, faith, and lasting change to a world that needs our influence desperately! If needed, here is a list of resources that can help you further:
Kane McEntire is the Youth Pastor at Asbury United Methodist Church in Wichita, Kansas. He is married to his amazing wife Leslie, and a father to his 3 kids, Talan, Kole, and Ella Mercy. He is passionate about youth, community, compassion being shown towards all, Wichita State basketball, vintage stereo equipment, and collecting vinyl records. You can connect with Kane on Facebook and Instagram.